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Positive result as Government wins appeal to exempt small sites from affordable housing and The Planning and Housing Bill receives Royal Assent

16th May 2016

The Planning community and developers across London and the UK are commending last Wednesday’s judgement which saw the Government winning its legal challenge against last year’s High Court ruling that quashed a national planning policy intended to exempt small sites from affordable housing obligations.
Reading Borough Council and neighbouring West Berkshire District Council claimed that the new policy, introduced in a written ministerial statement in November 2014, would reduce the amount of affordable housing across the country by more than 20 per cent. They went on to claim that the policy would have a particular impact in their areas, while providing a windfall to developers and landowners.

Mr Justice Holgate supported their arguments in July of last year, resulting in the policy being quashed. Essentially the decision excluded developments of ten homes or less (or 1,000 sq. m. or less) from the requirement to provide or contribute to affordable housing provision.

However, Wednesday’s (11 May) judgement of the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, and Lords Justices Laws and Treacy overturned the High Court ruling allowing the appeal brought by the Government, reversing Mr Justice Holgate's decision to quash the policy.

Richard Henley, Group Planning & Land Director for Countrywide Planning, said:

“This is an extremely positive outcome for small site developers as it enables them to release sites that are or have previously been stalled or prevented from making it off the drawing board. We see a significant amount of land being brought forward by the smaller developer community and this ruling will result in ‘the brakes being taken off’ and an increased delivery of much needed homes across London, the South East, and the UK as a whole.”

This positive decision comes in the same week as the Housing and Planning Bill received Royal Assent, facilitating the Government’s commitment and kick-start for a ‘national crusade to get one million homes built by 2020.’ The Housing and Planning Act, as it is now called, introduces a range of changes to the planning system including a requirement for councils to provide 20 per cent of new housing as discounted starter homes for first-time buyers. 

The Act also brings in another key measure introducing ‘permission in principle’ - an automatic consent for sites identified in local and neighbourhood plans and new brownfield registers, subject to further technical details being agreed by authorities. Further provisions also support measures to boost self and custom build housing.

If you have a land or property asset which is under-utilised that you consider has development potential and could benefit from Countrywide Planning's expertise, please contact the planning team for an informal discussion.

Richard Henley MRTPI (National):, 07812 522423
Peter Biggs MRTPI (London):, 07710 016079
Chris Pipe MRTPI (UK Planning):, 07710 399995
Charles McClean (Countrywide Land Network Director):, 07725 428873

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